Retro Review – Fleischer Superman – “Japoteurs”

Fleischer Superman

Superman Homepage reviewer Micah Pickering reviews the Fleischer Superman animated shorts for those nostalgic for the 1940s.

Check out his review of the cartoon titled “Japoteurs”.

Disclaimer: This installment of the Superman cartoon serials is titled “Japoteurs”. In modern times, this term could be considered offensive by many. This cartoon was created during World War II, and is very much a product of its time.

A new studio, a daring adventure, and the beginning of a new direction for this series. This installment of the Superman series marks a shift in the series in many ways. One of these significant changes is the studio changed its name. Max and Joe Fleischer left Fleischer Studios, which paved the way for Paramount Pictures to take control of the studio and rename it Famous Studios.

Another significant change in the series, beginning with this cartoon, is the direct use of World War II as a story element. While comics had already begun to lean in this direction, this is the first time in animation that Superman flew into action to protect America from Axis forces. The 1940s would become a hot period for Superman as the character’s popularity would soar as the general public adopted him as a symbol of American courage.

Other major studios (Disney, Warner Bros, etc.) would soon make their own patriotic, war themed cartoons. Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, and dozens more iconic American cartoon characters would find themselves going toe to toe with the Axis powers.

Now on to the review!

3Rating – 3 (out of 5): This was a good installment that saw saboteurs try to hijack an experimental bomber on behalf of Imperial Japan. Lois and Clark are naturally sent to cover the bomber’s first official test. The massive bomber is capable of catastrophic destruction. As the bomber takes flight, Lois stows away on the plane to get the inside story about the plan.

Predictably, this puts Lois in danger when the saboteurs enact their sinister scheme. Lois radios for help and the air force deploys fighters to battle the bomber. However, their efforts are proven fruitless against the might of the experimental plane, as the saboteurs drop bombs to prevent the fighters from taking off.

This is definitely a job for Superman. Clark quickly changes and leaps into action. Superman easily dispatches the saboteurs and rescues Lois. However, the day is not yet saved. The saboteurs destroy the controls and send the bomber on a collision course with the city below. After getting Lois to safety, Superman soars into the air to stop the plane from crashing. The Man of Steel stops the nosedive, and prevents yet another catastrophe.

This installment blends the sentiment of World War II era American patriotism with the exciting action of superhero stories to make a good cartoon that was undoubtedly enjoyed by many when it debuted. Upon a rewatch. I believe it still stands the test of time today.